Installing a Universal Robot to pick metal parts from a press brake solved several automation headaches at Etalex, a Canada-based manufacturer of shelving systems. The company had no room for safety guarding in front of the press brake and needed a flexible, user-friendly robot able to safely handle the pick and place tasks in a high traffic area. The UR10 robot was up to the challenge.
Compared with the other 25 robots in operation at Etalex, all placed behind sturdy safety fencing, the Universal Robots application is an unusual sight. The UR robot belongs to a new breed of automatons dubbed ‘collaborative robots’, as built-in force control limits the force at contact and does not cause bodily harm, enabling them to work alongside employees.
Unlike more traditional industrial robots that normally stay bolted in one spot, the lightweight UR robots can easily be moved and reprogrammed for various production tasks. Plant engineer at Etalex, Jean-Francois Rousseau, was eager to try out this new type of robot: “We needed a flexible automation solution that could be used for 10 different production cycles. Since I only have 6 ft of space in front of the press brake, it was important that I could run this application without safety caging.”
Before the arrival of the company’s new robot colleague, an employee would spend 8 hours a day manually unloading the press brake. These manual tasks have now been reduced to an hour per day spent inspecting the quality of each pallet of parts and changing the coils, resulting in an estimated ROI of about 12 months.
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